Graphic Novel Review: IN. by Will McPhail

IN. by Will McPhail. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. 9780358345541. 268pp.

Cartoonist Will McPhail draws a lot of comics for the The New Yorker. In this, his first graphic, a combination of inks and maybe watercolors create a mostly black-and-white world (with bursts of color following revelatory moments, in fantastic sequences) in which his wide-eyed characters try there best to communicate with each another.

Nick is an artist, and a bit of smart aleck. He’s kinda sad and wanders from cafes to bars, and in one of the latter (it’s name out front is written in Helvetica) he meets Wren, a doctor on a date with another dude. But then they meet up on the subway after Nick gets told off by another woman he was drawing, and they kind of hit it off. (There’s a two-page spread early in the book, a wordless summary of their first date, that is amazing.) But remember: Nick is sad, and he seems sad because he can’t really communicate with anyone, including his neighbor, his sister, and his mother. And he really needs to communicate with his mom because she has cancer, and they need to talk about it and a lot of other things.

Worth noting: The story maintains a lightness, even in heavy moments, because of the romcom feel of what’s happening between Nick and Wren. I was reading another, much less entertaining book on loneliness that I could not relate to when I picked this one up. This was the perfect book for that moment. (I never did finish the other book.)


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